Claire is a curator, visual-artist, illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, eco-fashion designer and creative producer based out of Stratford, Ontario.
Claire creates contrasted, bold, vibrant paintings inspired by the natural world and music. She is interested in merging the energy of moments and movement into physical representation. Sometimes, beginning with one line and ending the same line, she creates work with no intentional plan but tapping into the feeling/vibe of the moment, similar to how music can make someone feel. Claire is also very intrigued by characteristics and personalities of people, which she translates into her own impressions of faces. She is connected to eyes, especially the third eye and the realm beyond the physical world, where bigger ideas flow.
Claire is fascinated with the differences amongst people, and that nothing natural can be created the same way twice, everything flows in its own direction, everything carries its own energy, everything is unique and nature is the ultimate guide of colour and texture.
Claire also runs her own fashion brand, Claire Upcycled, an improved creative endeavour in her fashion pursuits, established in 2019. Since running Eyze Designs, a mass-produced fashion brand with her original designs, she has now put the environment first. Claire has completely re-branded to an eco-friendly, eco-fashion clothing line where she buys all her clothing second-hand and re-creates/upcycles the clothing into design forward, fun, fabulous, uni-sex street wear. All Claire Upcycled clothing is completely one-of-a-kind. She screenprints her own designs onto recycled fabrics and does all sewing production herself.
Claire believes that everything you could possibly need to wear already exists on this planet so why not use what we have and turn it into wearable ART.
For all of 2020, Claire created out of the former shop location of La Osa Jewelry + Vintage owned by Pamela Coneybeare.
This location was a studio from January – July, opening in the summer as an Art Pop Up space which hosted a gallery of works by Claire, clothing by Claire Upcycled and media production by Stratford artist, Kris Von Kleist. This space was temporary until December 2020. Claire now creates out of a new studio space with big plans coming for 2021.
Read more about Claire’s artistic journey…
Claire was born and raised in Stratford, Ontario, where her artistic pursuits began. Claire’s passion for art started as soon as she could hold a crayon, and carried through into highschool years when she started doing freelance work. A few album covers here and there, photography gigs, poster designs and selling some paintings, she knew that she wanted to continue her practices in post-secondary education right after graduating.
Claire attended York University in 2012 and was thrilled to experience the culture of Toronto.
She had a keen interest in other areas of the arts like creative writing and was in awe of the exposure to the whole York U Faculty of Arts; Film, Music, Dance, Theatre, Design – which lead her to many collaborative opportunities and inspirational experiences.
At 19 years old coming out of her first year at York, Claire started her first big entrepreneurial venture with her (past) business partner Wanze Song. The two created Eyze Designs, a graphic clothing line consisting of original designs, textiles and hand-sewn garments. This clothing line boomed in its first year, making appearances on Degrassi TV-Show and selling out every item of their limited edition collections.
11 collections and 6 years later, the two supportingly decided on different journeys and continued their separate pursuits of fashion, (Claire Upcycled).
In 2016, Claire graduated from York University with a BFA with Honours in Visual Arts, where she flourished as a creator and discovered her “style”, testing the system, making her final thesis about collaboration, which was a big push for acceptance, as all other artists were creating works on their own.
This involved describing and sharing the experience of connecting with other artists to produce something together, the divinity of minds synchronizing to achieve a process and outcome. Some of the paintings were 5×10 feet and some painted directly on the walls of the faculty. These works made a huge statement in the structured system. Other works consisted of improvisation, by creating with different musicians, they would improvise and Claire would paint to the music, creating large 4 x 6 foot canvases over the course of an hour. She was very interested in creating ‘in-the-moment, producing ‘vibrations’ that couldn’t be replicated the same twice.
Claire was awarded mural spaces 2 years in a row in the York U Student Centre, which are still hanging, received several art awards, curated solo and group shows in galleries on campus and around the city of Toronto. 3 large paintings created by Claire and two of her collaborative partners, are permanently hung in the Fine Arts facility where they spent several hours in the studio creating.
In Claire’s 4.5 year duration of living in Toronto, exhibiting in galleries in the city and collaborating with many musicians and creatives, she craved an escape into Nature. After graduating, she moved to Vancouver, her 2nd home, continuing her entrepreneurial businesses and creatively collaborating along the way.
In Vancouver she spent as many days possible up in the mountains, on trails and zenning out on the beaches and parks, endlessly drawing in her sketchbooks and painting in her studio. Her spiritual connection to art and nature helped translate more words and feelings into works of art. This is where the loud colours in paintings come from – the vibrancy of nature.
In 2017, she travelled in Asia for 3 months, spending time in India, Nepal and Thailand with one of her biggest collaborative inspirations. This was a huge shift for Claire’s artistic practice, as she awoke to new styles, vibrations, music, art and culture. With sketchbooks overflowing with drawings and ideas, she moved back home to Stratford in May of 2017, where she planned to paint a series of 20 paintings and have some sort of ‘end-of-summer-exhibition.’
Her manifestation was granted when owner of Pazzo Pizzeria & Taverna, Jeff Leney, approached her with the idea of taking over their storage space in York Lane and opening up a small art space. She leaped at the opportunity immediately and continued painting everyday, spending full days serving at the restaurant and coming home and creating until 4 in the morning for an entire summer.
Claire proceeded her idea of making an art space that was collaborative, expressive and most importantly – somewhere for other artists to come and have opportunities to connect and showcase their work.
Thus, York Lane Art Collective was born and opened its doors in November of 2017.
The initial intentions were to open it like a Pop-Up space, with no foreseeable timeline as to how long it would last. With the hopes of creating a vibe in the arts community of Stratford, Claire commenced YLAC with a solo show with intentions to create a buzz and get more artists collectively connected. This solo show included over 30 paintings (many inspired by her travels) and a new line of 11 designs for her past clothing line (Eyze by Claire).
This opening show brought hundreds of people through in its first full month. With the inspiration for making more opportunities for artists to express themselves, and avid interest in collaboration, Claire opened the second show in December 2017 curating work of 11 local female artists and thus YLAC really took off.
Artists and musicians started showing up right away and started volunteering their time to help make shows come to life.
YLAC established itself as a volunteer-run, creative art space for artists to express themselves, collaborate with others, and fuel inspiration. Sometimes a gallery, sometimes a concert, YLAC became an ever-evolving space where disciplines were practiced, experienced and expressed.
During the 2 year time frame down in the alley of York Lane, Claire & YLAC has curated and hosted over 28 art events, supporting over 350 artists. This included solo shows for artists, collaborative group shows, Stratford’s first ever Pride Art Show (hosted 2 years), a ton of concerts, poetry readings, play readings, small theatre productions, film screenings, life-drawing classes, high-school student shows and much more.
In October of 2019, York Lane Art Collective’s time had come to return the space back to the landlords and close its doors. They hosted their final (super epic) show and although it was the end of an era to some degree, it was still only the beginning for this continual collaborative art platform.
Since closing the doors to its first physical space, YLAC continues to host Art Pop Up’s in other locations, keeping their collaborative experiences coming.
York Lane Art Collective continues to thrive on sustaining an artistic community and it’s only getting more exciting from here. Claire and Kris Von Kleist, are currently elevating their visions to a new level of engagement with the community, with many opportunities for artists on the way.